INDIANAPOLIS – Stefan Wilson won’t have to look far to be reminded of who he’s racing for in this month’s Indianapolis 500. The list will be on the nose of his Indy car.
The No. 25 Driven2SaveLives Honda of Andretti Autosport is carrying the names of 25 individuals awaiting life-saving organ transplants. They are among the approximately 115,000 in the U.S. awaiting transplants.
“For me, it’s a way to showcase who these 115,000 Americans are and give that number a personality, a face,” Wilson said Wednesday.
In April 2016, Indiana Donor Network seized the opportunity to use the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 to amplify messaging on organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation, and the organization sponsored Wilson’s car. This initiative is an extension of that.
The campaign is in honor of Stefan’s late older brother, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson, who had succumbed to injuries sustained in a race crash in 2015. Because Justin had been a registered organ donor, he saved five lives.
Justin’s car number was 25, and Stefan has adopted the number. It became a driving force for the names on the nose of this year’s car.
“We want to encourage people to register to be a donor and educate them on why it is so important,” Wilson said. “See, it’s easy to say ‘115,000’ people, but then you see their stories it brings it to life, really brings it home.”
Wednesday, Wilson showed one of the individuals whose name will be on the car around the Andretti Autosport race shop in Indianapolis. Essentially, they got “a sneak peek” at the car Wilson hopes to make his second Indy 500 start in..
Dawn Arch was diagnosed with renal failure six years ago, and her illness came on suddenly. She completes dialysis three days per week but says she is “still able to live a full life, which includes a career as a certified nursing assistant.” She has been on a transplant waiting list for three years.
Arch started a website to educate others about donation and used social media to spread the word. She is currently traveling across Indiana visiting high schools, sporting events and speaking to groups about the importance of registering their donation decisions.
Arch was joined on the Andretti Autosport visit with her daughter, Darrian, who is the 2018 Miss Indiana USA. Darrian, a Bethel College senior, has made organ, tissue and eye donation her platform so that one day her mother might get a transplant.
Wilson, 28, made his Indy car debut as his brother’s teammate at Dale Coyne Racing in the 2013 street race in Baltimore.